Spring 2019

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Partner Focus: HACRO's Caring Dad's Programme

Caring Dads

Working as a valued partner on our Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project, HACRO exists for the care and resettlement of offenders as they are released from prison. BBO's Project Strive is the part of the programme which deals with the problems that stop disadvantaged people getting into work. HACRO has a specialist mentor to help ex-offenders get back to work.

Meanwhile, HACRO have a programme, Caring Dads, which is devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of children by working with fathers who are alleged to have abused or neglected their children or exposed them to abuse of their mothers.

Caring Dads provides a 17-week parenting course for fathers who are in contact with their children or have the expectation of being in contact with them. It is a cognitive behaviour therapy programme for up to 16 fathers and is delivered by trained facilitators with a background in child development or offender management.

This programme is designed to enable men to improve their fathering skills and take responsibility for their children’s welfare and safety.

It is primarily to develop the father’s relationship with the child and mother to reduce the impact on both. It is also to encourage child centred behaviour, reduce conflict in family life and enable men to become better fathers.

The programme uses intervention strategies adapted from motivational interviewing, psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioural and emotion-focused approaches.

Following domestic abuse and family breakdown fathers are often angry, feel victimised and deny, minimise or blame others for their situation. As a result they continue to cause difficulties for their children and their children’s mothers.

In Hertfordshire from April-December 2015 the police received 7,148 non-crime domestic abuse call-outs and 5,838 domestic abuse crime call-outs.

75% of cases of domestic abuse children will have been present either in the room or in the property when domestic abuse has taken place.  It is well established that witnessing the abuse of another, particularly a parent, is emotionally and developmentally damaging to children.

Men who have been abusive in one intimate relationship often go on be abusive in other relationships.  Many such fathers have not had good enough parenting themselves so do not know how to be a positive role model and adopt a child-centred approach to parenting.

Instead they are controlling and respond with anger and aggression to children’s needs and this pattern is repeated as they move from one abusive relationship to another. In turn, their children will not benefit from an appropriate role model, thereby continuing the cycle of abuse unless there is suitable intervention.

The main aims of the course:

  • To increase men’s awareness of child-centred fathering
  • Increase men’s awareness of, and responsibility for, abusive, and neglectful fathering behaviours and their impact on children.
  • To rebuild trust and enable the beginning of healing of the harm caused to their children.

At the end of the course fathers commonly report that they now recognise the harm they have caused to their children, they feel better able to manage their feelings and feel better equipped to support their children in the future.

They also report having an improved relationship with their children’s mother.

Caring Dads is the only programme that deals with alleged perpetrators as parents and partners.

HACRO has been providing Caring Dads courses for six years in Hertfordshire. The Caring Dads Programme offered by HACRO is the only parenting programme for alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse in Hertfordshire.

The great majority of referrals to Caring Dads come from Children’s services, and we only accept fathers onto Caring Dads courses who are positively motivated. There is no charge to course participants who live in Hertfordshire or whose children live in Hertfordshire.

The referral form attached to this page is for use by professionals or those fathers advised by Cafcass to attend, in which case a copy of the court S7 report will be required along with contact details for the CAFCASS officer.

Please contact HACRO if you are interested in attending a course, or to find out more.

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